- possible, as opposed to actual: the potential uses of nuclear energy.
- capable of being or becoming: a potential danger to safety.
- Grammar. expressing possibility: the potential subjunctive in Latin; the potential use of can in I can go.
- Archaic. potent1.
- possibility; potentiality: an investment that has little growth potential.
- a latent excellence or ability that may or may not be developed.
- a potential aspect, mood, construction, case, etc.
- a form in the potential.
- Electricity. electric potential(def 1).
- Mathematics, Physics. a type of function from which the intensity of a field may be derived, usually by differentiation.
- someone or something that is considered a worthwhile possibility: The list of job applications has been narrowed to half a dozen potentials.
Origin of potential
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for potential
The eating disorder field remains divided over the potential efficacy of such measures.How Skinny Is Too Skinny? Israel Bans ‘Underweight’ Models
January 8, 2015
Is there any chance the potential 2016 hopeful will stand up to the right and embrace paid sick leave?Christie Blames Parents for Bad Economy
January 3, 2015
I ask Atefeh and Monir if they see dancing as a form of income in the future, a potential career.Iran’s Becoming a Footloose Nation as Dance Lessons Spread
January 2, 2015
The seedlings of his potential greatness as a leader are sprinkled throughout it.Mario Cuomo: An OK Governor, but a Far Better Person
January 2, 2015
There was so much beauty, talent, potential, and most importantly, honesty in your work.Dear Leelah, We Will Fight On For You: A Letter to a Dead Trans Teen
January 1, 2015
She loomed large, potential, courageous, a woman who held life in her hands.K
Mary Roberts Rinehart
It recalls the days when Englishmen were potential lighters; that is, potential rebels.Alarms and Discursions
G. K. Chesterton
If she be not a mother, you will supplicate her to speak of her potential children.City of Endless Night
Aren't you perhaps exaggerating your potential influence on my life?The Education of Eric Lane
It is potential, not actual, and can only be appropriated by strenuous exertion.Meno
- possible but not yet actual
- (prenominal)capable of being or becoming but not yet in existence; latent
- grammar (of a verb or form of a verb) expressing possibility, as English may and might
- an archaic word for potent 1
- latent but unrealized ability or capacityJones has great potential as a sales manager
- grammar a potential verb or verb form
- short for electric potential
Word Origin and History for potential
late 14c., "possible" (as opposed to actual), from Old French potenciel and directly from Late Latin potentialis "potential," from Latin potentia "power, might, force;" figuratively "political power, authority, influence," from potens "powerful" (see potent). The noun, meaning "that which is possible," is first attested 1817, from the adjective.
- Capable of being but not yet in existence; latent.
- The inherent ability or capacity for growth, development, or coming into being.
- The work required to bring a unit electric charge, magnetic pole, or mass from an infinitely distant position to a designated point in a static electric, magnetic, or gravitational field, respectively.
- The potential energy of a unit charge at any point in an electric circuit measured with respect to a specified reference point in the circuit or to ground; voltage.